Jim Pharis – High Mileage
Self-Release – 2018
10 tracks; 40 minutes
Jim Pharis is an acoustic player from Louisiana and this is his third CD release. Recorded in Lafayette, LA, the album is just Jim on guitar and vocals with AJ Primeaux adding harp to a couple of tracks. The material is a half and half of Jim’s originals and covers from the likes of Tampa Red, Snooks Eaglin and Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
Whether playing fingerstyle or slide, Jim’s guitar is well recorded here, sitting right in the middle of the mix. His vocals are clear and tuneful and work well with the music. The album opens with Jim’s title track which uses the beat-up old car as a metaphor for his current physical state, a funny and touching song that draws the listener in: “It’s hard to get me cranked up in the morning, once I start I just keep running. I’m high mileage but I ain’t done yet”. Equally effective is “Drift Away” in which Jim reflects on the later stages of life while “Salt And Pearls” adds a brooding feel to a tune about night time. “Five Alarm Fire” is a slow blues with AJ adding some harp, the lyrics describing a nervous girl who panics at the sound of clocks chiming and fears that five candles on a cake constitutes a conflagration! In contrast “Mule” is a jaunty country blues instrumental, dexterously played.
The covers include Snooks Eaglin’s “I’m A Country Boy” which sounds like it could have been written for Jim as he sings of being down in New Orleans and Oscar Woods’ 30’s comic tune “Don’t Sell It, Don’t Give It Away” which Jim plays on slide. Tampa Red’s classic “It Hurts Me Too” features AJ’s harp work in a relaxed version and Sister Rosetta’s “Up Above My Head I Hear Music In The Air” adds a gospel element though Jim plays it as a country blues. The album closes with a cheerfully uptempo run through Blind Boy Fuller’s “Step It Up And Go”.
Well played acoustic music blending originals and covers of classic tunes – an enjoyable album.